Kaptigau left behind a legacy

Editorial, Normal

The National, Monday September 28th, 2015

 NURSES play an integral role in the healthcare system. They have been referred to as the heart of healthcare. Being a nurse is a demanding profession and needs a lot of dedication and commitment to the job.

Most people do not appreciate the real nature of the responsibilities of a nurse. In their eyes, nurses are those who merely administer shots at the hospital. Others view them as doctors’ assistants. 

Nurses play various roles concurrently depending on the needs of a patient. These roles include :

  • Caregiver: The care afforded depends on the needs and requirements of a patient. Patients are at different stages of illness, thus, some need more attention and care than others. This might include total care which entails doing everything for the patient. The care might also entail helping a patient with the prevention of an illness; 
  • Decision maker: A nurse is a decision maker for the client and is ought to use his/her critical thinking skills to come up with the most significant outcomes for the patient. Some of these critical thinking skills entail evaluating a patient, recognising the problem, and implementing interventions that promote the health of a patient. A nurse must always use his judgment to determine what is in the best interest of the patient;
  • communicator: Effective communication in the healthcare system can improve outcomes in the healthcare environment. If the communication is not effective, the healing process will be inhibited; and,  
  • Teacher: Nurses must also act as a teacher. Being a teacher to the patient entails assisting patients in gaining knowledge about their health and medications. More often than not, patients will be confused about certain steps and procedures.

Arguably PNG’s most quoted nurse over the past several years was laid to rest in her Misima Island home in Milne Bay last week.

Like unionists in general, Sr Eimi Tomilesi Kaptigau’s name had been linked mainly to occasions when she and her executives entered into negotiations or confronted the employer, the Government of Papua New Guinea.

In her other, “real jobs” as sister in charge of the children’s ward at Port Moresby General Hospital, then nursing unit manager of a consultation clinic and until her demise, sister in charge of the medical and surgical consultation clinic however, she rarely made the news.

Kaptigau was the president of the PNG Nurses Association until her death.  She was gentle, polite and soft spoken. Unionism is also about diplomacy and tact which she had demonstrated too. 

Yet, there was considerable inner strength and determination to see those in the profession getting a fair deal from their employer. Her work to secure decent working conditions for nurses was focused on the one greater end: that of improving healthcare for the public.

Kaptigau had in her own way, however small, contributed to improved living and working conditions for nurses.  And many have euologised her achievements. 

It is for such achievements as a professional nurse and unionist that colleagues from around the country joined the family in bidding farewell to the president of the PNG Nurses Association last Thursday.

Director of nursing at the Port Moresby General Hospital Carol Hosea said Kaptigau had contributed a lot to the hospital in clinical and administrative services.

She was transferred from the Kimbe General Hospital to Port Moresby in 1995 and worked at the children’s ward.

In 1997, she was appointed the nurse unit manager for the consultation clinic. In 1998, she was appointed sister in charge of the medical and surgical consultation clinic.

“One of her achievements was the renovation to the medicine and surgical clinics by BSP through its community service programme in 2009 and 2010 respectively,” Hosea said. Kaptigau had fought for improved employment conditions for nurses including allowances and other compensation due to deserving staff.  In order for their professional pride and job security and career pathways, she had to ensure that nurses are duly registered.  

A couple of nurse housing projects in Port Moresby and Kimbe in West New Britain have also been attributed to Kaptigau’s persistence in ensuring that the government made a commitment.

She believed in the profession and its critical role in the entire health sector.  In a way, the entire health system hinges on a professionally trained, efficient and happy nursing profession in the country.

Kaptigau leaves behind a legacy. The PNG Nurses Association and nurses generally owe it to her memory to doing their jobs well to improve healthcare wherever they are stationed.